Violator is the seventh album by Depeche Mode. Now two things spring to mind: 1990 and the music in that year. Violator follows some conventions of nineties pop-music but with a dark underbelly. Depeche Mode’s direction with Violator was intriguing because the albums that had been produced before never quite had the same depth or imagination. Their previous songs such as Strangelove would be the foundation for Depeche Mode’s sound on Violator.
Violator begins with World In My Eyes which is a fantastic opener because of the funky upbeat tempo and the intelligent lyrics that vocalist David Gahan delivers “Let me take you on a trip round the world and back.” Gahan is preparing the listener to enter the mysterious world of Violator. Sweetest Perfection is where we hear guitarist Martin Gore sing lead vocals around the dual themes of sex and drugs which is accompanied by a melancholic tone that fits the song perfectly. Personal Jesus is a cynical jab at organised religion and televangelism. Personal Jesus‘ thumping drum beat and it’s catchy blues guitar-riff made this the unlikeliest of pop songs for it’s time. In the track Halo, it highlights and reinforces that as song-writers they are more focused and personal with lyrics “You wear guilt like shackles on your feet, like a halo in reverse.”
In Enjoy The Silence, Gore explores the themes of how words can affect individuals. Enjoy The Silence is a phenomenon among fans. The popularity and success of Enjoy The Silence should be credited to the unsung hero of Depeche Mode, Alan Wilder, who persuaded Gore that the song suited more of an upbeat tempo rather than a slowbeat-tempo, the song was intended for. Wilder played keyboards as well as synthesisers for Depeche Mode from 1982 to1995. You’re able to hear Wilder utilise the equipment so competently through the innovative use of samples and creation of unique sounds such as the ‘zap’. Policy of Truth is another fun song, the melody is absolutely infectious after the first few seconds. The slow-calm bridge is another notable feature of the song, which includes lyrics “Now you’re standing there tongue-tied” which makes Policy such a flawless track. Blue Dress and Clean are very contrasting songs. Blue Dress is an electronic swing number with Clean being a theatrical finish to the album.
Depeche Mode’s Violator will remain a classic because of how slick and innovative the album was for its time. Violator in essence violated the definition of popular music partly due to Alan Wilder’s lovely arrangements and Flood’s versatile production. This album became the quintessential blueprint for a following generation of musicians such as The Pet Shop Boys, Linkin Park, Coldplay, Shakira. Violator propelled Depeche Mode to success which would make them become one of Britain’s finest electronic bands. If you’re looking for something unique and intelligent with a touch of mystery then this album is a must!